Volvo Cars North America, an automaker that prides itself on its safety record, has agreed to pay $1.5 million in fines to federal safety regulators for not conducting seven separate recalls in a timely manner.
Volvo fined for procrastination
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the penalty assessment on its website Tuesday. Since that time, it has confirmed that Volvo had agreed to meet the obligation.
Timely reporting requirements
According to the the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, automakers are required to notify safety regulators and announce a recall within five days of determining a defect that compromises safety.
David Strickland, administrator of the NHTSA, said in a statement:
“[The NHTSA] expects all manufacturers to obey the law and address automotive safety concerns without delay.”
Investigation started in 2011
The NHTSA began its investigation into Volvo’s recalls in January, 2011. Since that time, it reports it has found “evidence that Volvo failed to report safety defects and non-compliances to the agency in accordance with federal law” in seven separate instances since 2010.
The untimely recalls
Six of the seven recalls occurred in 2010, and one in May of this year. According to the Detroit News, the seven recalls combined affected about 30,000 vehicles.
The most recent recall was the largest of the bunch. It affected about 16,000 2012 Volvo S60, XC60, S80 and XC70s. That recall was over a wiring issue that could cause airbags to not deploy properly in the event of an accident.
NHTSA cracking down
The fines will be paid into the General Fund of the U.S treasury. The current maximum the government can charge for failure to issue a timely recall is around $17 million. In the past, these fines have been rarely levied, however. In February, BMW was charged $3 million for failing to issue a recall within the five day window the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires. It is an indication the agency is losing tolerance with delinquent automakers.
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The NHTSA has been pressuring Congress to increase the fines it can charge automakers for late recalls. The NHTSA’s Strickland recently told a House subcommittee:
“We feel it’s high time the penalties are reflective of the size of the industry.”
Procedural changes pending
Volvo Cars North America, LLC and its parent company Volvo Car Corporation in Sweden has also agreed to make procedural changes to its decision-making process as it relates to the timely announcement of safety recalls.